David Willetts MP has been recalling the British Housewives League of the 1940s in a recent SMF speech.
"Labour might believe in organising the economy in corporatist deals with the producers - we are the Party of the consumer. Often, especially in the early days, the consumer was identified as the 'housewife.' She was the person standing in the queue on the receiving end of rationing. Everyone is familiar with the notorious remark that 'the gentleman in Whitehall knows best' but fewer know the full quotation which was: 'Housewives as a whole cannot be trusted to buy the right thing the gentleman in Whitehall really does know what is best for the people than the people themselves.
No wonder the post-War Party allied with that formidable political force, the Housewives' League, and those arguments were absorbed by the Party's youngest candidate in the 1950 General Election - Margaret Thatcher."
Note: The Tories didn't oppose rationing - they couldn't (because there wasn't anything like the CAP in place to protect us from shortages). But they weren't above letting Labour take the blame for it.
We'll be able to judge Michael Howard's piety on global warming by the amount of distance that his party puts between itself and the petrolhead tendency. Come to think of it, weren't the Fuel Protests of 2000 led by Conservative Councillors? Can we now expect the Tories to urge Labour to increase fuel tax in the next budget?